Walter Edmund Irvine MOURILYAN (c1877-1924)
Walter Edmund Irvine Mourilyan (1877-1923) was the nephew of Eugénie Narcisse Sladden (née Mourilyan) and the cousin of Jack, May, Kathleen, Ethel, Arthur, George, Cyril and Juliet Sladden.
Walter was born at Yokohama, Japan, on 8th January 1877, the eldest of two children of Walter and Alice Mourilyan. Walter’s father, Walter, was a merchant, and the family was based in Japan at the time. Walter was only three when his mother died. The family returned to England to live in Richmond, Surrey. Two years later, Walter and his little sister, Alice, were orphaned when their father died in September 1882.
It is not known for certain who took the children in, but it was most likely that Walter and Alice were brought up by their father’s half-sister, Mary Anna Robinson, known as Aunt Polly, who lived close by at Marshgate House, Richmond. Mary Anna’s husband, Frederick Dalgarno Robinson, a solicitor, had acted as executor for their father’s will. Walter was educated at King’s School, Canterbury, where he was to be found at the time of the 1891 census. He then trained as a solicitor.
Walter married Violet May Nixon on 12th April 1902 at St Matthias, Richmond, Surrey; his address at the time was 10 Chisholm Road, Richmond. They had one daughter, Eileen Violet (1908-1997), born at Richmond. In 1911 they were living at 12 Chislehurst Road, Richmond. Walter was a member of the Richmond Lodge of Freemasons, being initiated on 1st May 1912.
In a letter of 22nd April 1915, Jack Sladden, who was staying with his Aunt Polly at Marshgate House, Richmond, refers to a visit from Walter, in which he indicates that Walter had joined the Anti-Aircraft Corps of the RNVR.
In a letter of 4th July 1915, Eugénie Sladden expressed surprise at Walter and Violet having a legal separation as she thought that they had always been a devoted couple. Walter had begun an affair with Maude Marie Cadman in 1913 and they had a son, Walter James, in 1914. Walter and Violet divorced in 1916. The decree absolute was issued on 16th October and they married four days later at Camberwell. This marriage, too, ended in divorce. An article in The Nottingham Evening Post of 1st October 1921 read:
Prince as Co-Respondent – Interesting names are likely to figure in the divorce list for the term which opens on the 12th inst. HH Prince Ibrahm Said Fazil (an Egyptian) is cited as co-respondent in a suit which Mr Walter Mourilyan of Richmond has entered for divorce. Mrs Mourilyan also has filed a petition for the dissolution of her marriage. The suits will appear in the defended list.
The hearing began in the Divorce Court on 22nd February 1922 and was widely reported in newspapers of the time. Marie filed for divorce on the grounds of cruelty and adultery and Walter on the grounds of her adultery with Prince Fazil.
After several adjournments, a decision was finally made at the end of March, the Judge finding in favour of Mrs Mourilyan who was granted a decree nisi. A report in The Western Chronicle said:
Mr Justice Hill, in dismissing the Prince from the case, said he could not believe the husband’s evidence. Mrs Mourilyan was an excitable and capricious woman apparently, but he saw no reason to doubt her word, that her relations with the Prince were of an innocent character. His lordship said he believed the allegations made by Mrs Mourilyan against the husband, and added that the couple possessed incompatible temperaments.
A year later, Walter’s name was again in the newspapers, this time because a fellow Richmond solicitor, Harold Northway Robbins, was granted a decree nisi because of the adultery between his wife, Elsie, and Walter.
Walter and Elsie married on 16th August 1924. Just over a month later, Walter was dead, having committed suicide. He died on 19th September 1924 at 14 Star and Garter Mansions, Putney. The relationship had been volatile and Walter’s name was again all over the newspapers, with paragraphs such as this:
Mr Walter Edmund Mourilyan, the solicitor, who figured in the sensational “Boy Prince” divorce suit two years ago, has been found dead from gas-poisoning in his flat.
And from The Hawera and Normanby Star of 25th September 1924:
DOMESTIC QUARREL - HUSBAND COMMITS SUICIDE - An inquest was held today concerning the death of Walter Mourilyan, a solicitor, of Richmond Surrey, who was found dead in his flat at Putney with his head inside the oven of a gas cooker. His widow admitted that she quarrelled with the deceased on the day before his death. The deceased had an extraordinary and ungovernable temper. His previous wife, interrupting shouted, "I won't let you run him down, you wicked woman!" The interjector was removed from the court in hysterics. Replying to the coroner the widow denied assaulting her husband with tongs. The coroner read a passage from the deceased's last letter declaring, "I have no doubt that the cruel and cunning wife of mine will put all the blame upon me. It's not true!" The coroner summing up said he thought the widow was not as terribly to blame as the letter hinted. A verdict was returned of suicide while of unsound mind.